Category Archives: Traditional Chinese Medicine

The Water Element – Vital Resource

“Wisdom is the virtue that empowers us to stand firmly in the face of the unknown and chart a steady course through uncertain waters.” – Lonnie Jarrett

The final phase of the life cycle, the element of winter when resources are stored, in Traditional Chinese this is the water element. This is part of a series of articles featuring the basic principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Please follow the links to read more.

The Water Personality

A strong and healthy kidney/UB is reflected by those who utilize resources effectively, bringing potential into the world in a way that cultivates wisdom rather than frivolity. When healthy, water types are methodical, clever, sensible, and have a strong depth of awareness. They neither squander nor hoard resources, but use them in a way that is most beneficial, aligning their own will with the will of Heaven (utilization of the highest good). – Quoted from Amy Jo Gengler

In youth, the Water person may be called an “old soul”. They seem wise beyond their years. The Water person is able to adapt. Just as water takes the shape of any vessel it is in, the Water person blends in well with their surroundings. At the same time they find it easy, and generally preferable, to stay hidden. They are self-sufficient, prefer to work alone and are often absorbed in their own thoughts.

These people are creative and imaginative; they use their creativity as a tool. They are thinkers, philosophers, good planners because they have already thought about what might go wrong in advance. They are flexible, unimposing, and diplomatic. They are able to wear away opposition like flowing water will wear away rock.

Some possible physical characteristics of the Water person: They come in all shapes and sizes, but can also share characteristics of elderly people, such as thinning hair, hearing loss, or very sensitive hearing. Their skin may be cold to the touch. They tend to have sharp teeth.

I have often wondered if the vampire concept is in any way connected to the Water personality… sharp teeth, sunken eyes with dark circles, thin skin, showing veins, poor circulation, coldness, love of the night and solitude, and occasionally thrives on other creatures… okay bones, not blood. Although the big problem with that theory is that vampires never age while sadly Water persons may age too quickly. But I digress.

General Pathology of the Water Element

Primary Emotion: Fear
Primary Concern: Having enough resources
A Water may have a lot of fear around resources.

Like all the elements, manifestations of deep-seated dispositions, are both physical and conceptual. When a Water person is unhealthy, they may be either very fearful or fearless daredevils. They may become unbalanced with resources, for example they may either become wasteful with money, squandering resources, or very miserly.

They have an uncanny ability to remain calm during a crisis. But in pathology they tend to have stressed out nervous systems. Ambition is a common attribute. They are able to harness their own power, plus all resources available to them, in a healthy way to accomplish great feats,  but Waters should be careful to not misuse their own will for the wrong pursuit. Amy Jo compares healthy Water will to the Hoover Dam, and pathologic use of will to a flood or drought.

Someone with excess Water may plot dark schemes. In contrast, they may at times be too conciliatory, allowing others to take advantage of them.

Read more about the water element personality here – Five Elements

Common Health Concerns of the Water Element

  • Nervous System Disorders
  • Back Pain
  • Weak Knees
  • Deterioration of Bones/Discs/Cartilage
  • All Bone Problems
  • Hearing Issues
  • Developmental Issues (genetic)
  • Urinary Issues and Kidney Issues (fear is associated with urinary issues)
  • Sexual Function Issues
  • Reproductive Problems
  • Premature Aging (w/ childbirth)
  • Also: baldness in men, slipped disks

Treatment Principles: Nourishing and Preservation

Important! This information is provided as a general introduction to the principles of TCM. Please consult your physician of choice concerning all matters pertaining to your personal health. This is not medical advice.

To follow are some recommendations from Amy Jo, TCM teacher, based on established TCM principles.

Avoid things which weaken the kidneys, including overconsumption of caffeine and energy drinks, alcohol, drugs, and improper use of Will

Kidney Deficiency:

May be indicated by low back pain, weak knees, teeth issues, exhaustion, sexual function disorders, infertility, hearing problems, premature aging, premature hair loss, developmental issues

  • Start by getting enough rest!!!
  • This is difficult to type: It is recommended that one limit coffee. One cup may be fine. Tea is better.
  • Limit alcohol. Less is best.

Nourishing foods: Increase bone broth, and nutrient dense foods such as Shitake Mushrooms, Kale, Barley, Nuts & Seeds, such as Almond, Walnut, Pistachio, Sesame/Black Sesame, Lotus Seeds (Lian Zi), Whole Grains, Nut Butters (best to cut out Peanut butter and switch to Almond, Cashew, Sunflower Seeds butters). Pho, Wheat berries, Millet, Steel-cut Oats, Black Beans, Sweet Potato, Pomegranate, Raspberry, Strawberry, Cherry, Congee, Asparagus, Cabbage, Black Mushrooms, Clove, Cinnamon, Beef, Chicken, Duck, Lamb, Pork, Salmon, Sardines, mackerel, Clam, Mussels, Oyster, Kelp, all seaweeds.

All foods should be cooked. Very little raw foods are good here. Soups are a great way to nourish kidneys.

Kidney Yin Deficiency

Night sweats, Hot flashes, ‘5-center heat’: hands, feet, chest get hot

Common in: Menopause, Post-Chemotherapy, Advanced AIDS/HIV, Addiction

All foods above, except for hot foods (cinnamon, coffee), increase cooling foods such as cucumber, watermelon and other foods in Liver Heat diet. *Raw foods are good here.

Kidney Yang Deficiency

Cold Extremities, Low Back Pain, plus many systems above (Kidney Deficiancy)

Increase spices, such as cinnamon, clove, ginger, and all foods in Sleen Qi Deficiency diet. Soups, Indian food, Lamb, Beef, Beef Kidney, Goat, and Venison

Some additional Notes:

  • Boiled deer antlers can be very beneficial
  • In general, Waters should avoid or limit peanuts (they are a “hot” food)
  • With age, women get hotter and faster; while men get cold and slower
  • When a Water exercises will, it is  hard to stop them – like a hurricane, flood, or river. A Water should not misuse will.
  • Water is the only phase which is genetic – it is related to inbreeding, aristocracies
  • Waters often have a grumbly gravelly voice. 
  • They wear clothing until it falls apart, tend to have messy cars
  • They may have a body odor like that is like a wet brick courtyard or boat
  • They generally love salty foods
  • They may have really good or really bad hearing
  • Girls tend to start cycle very early or very late
  • They transform fear to wisdom

Optimizing Health for the Water Element

It is not wrong to exercise will on occasion for an important and necessary task,  but misuse of will, or a stressed out nervous system makes one age quickly. Waters should focus on calming the nerves getting good sleep, taking breaks. Remind yourself that it is okay to stop working and sleep at night. Enjoy nourishing soups. Work at being more transparent, less seclusive.

Oh! And drink plenty of – you guessed it – water.

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Important! This information is provided as a general introduction to the principles of TCM. Please consult your physician of choice concerning all matters pertaining to your personal health. This is not medical advice.

 

Homemade Dog Food per Chinese Medicine

Chances are that we will never buy another bag of commercial dog food again! We have tried them all. Well, our fur baby has tried them all. And most of them sit in her bowl all day because she prefers to eat what we are eating. And, frankly, it is easier to feed her what we are eating. Over Aphie’s 17 1/2 years, we have tried Grains-free, Organic, nonGMO. yada yada yada. They have always made up part of her diet. The rest of her diet has been the organic foods that we eat, minus any foods that are not well digested by dogs. In fact, I generally make our free range organic chicken broth onion-free just so that she can saver all those nutritious delicious cooked down carrots and scraps that come from it. Broth day is her favorite day! Yes, she is a little spoiled. She gets away with way too much because she is little and cute.

Of course, every dog is different. Just like every human is different. So what works for your dog may be something very different.

Making crock pot food for our fur baby is actually not laborious. It is kinda fun! And it fills the house with a beautiful aroma. The first time I made this recipe, I had to try it. It was delicious! 🙂 After it is made, it can be refrigerated or frozen in portions for easy meals.

The biggest advantage may be that crock pot doggie meals are so versatile. This is a bonus for two reasons, interest and health.

First bonus, interest. If I had to eat the same foods every single day for every single meal, I would go mad with boredom! Of course, I am a human. Maybe dogs are cool with that. But, honestly, I feel a little bored giving my puppy the same dry food every day. And I really tire of seeing it abandoned in her food dish, just sitting there. hmm

Second bonus, health. If Aphie is showing signs of heat or damp conditions, like an infection of some sort, we can leave grains out. Otherwise, we can add them in for nutrition. Also, each time we make a new batch, we can switch up the ingredients. Butternut squash, broccoli, and turkey may go in one batch. Kale, pumpkin, and chicken may go in the next. We keep the same general ratios, but this allows for more nutritional variety, without confusing her diet.

And Aphie’s verdict? Well, it never sits in the bowl. Not once. Not ever. She loves it. And for a really old dog, she seems to be experiencing pretty great health. This works well for her.

To freeze portions, I use a 1/4 cup scoop, place all my scoops on a cookie sheet lined with freezer paper, and flatten them so they will stack. They get frozen in a single layer, then placed into a freezer container. Because they are frozen in small portions, they thaw fairly quickly. We can just set them out on the counter and let them thaw before each mealtime. Then quickly stir in supplements. Done!

homemade dog food
homemade dog food

Yes, this is a cat bowl. Aphie has many bowls. This one has cats on it. The bowls get washed after each meal. But we have already established the fact that she is spoiled.

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A Homemade Dog Food

Modified from Dr. Ruth’s Original Dog Food from Sun Cat Dog Moon

This recipe works for my little 10 # JRT. Be sure to consult with your own vet regarding nutritional needs for your little fur baby. Maybe a modification of this recipe for work for you.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup kidney beans
  • 1 cup diced organic carrots
  • 1 – 2 cup diced butternut squash – no need to dice it, it melts in the crock pot
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/3 teaspoon iodized salt
  • one pound abf ground turkey
  • 2 T coconut oil
  • optional: 1/3 cup grains, such as rice, quinoa, or millet
  • supplement: about 700 mg calcium, can be from bone meal

Note: per Dr. Ruth’s instructions, a multivitamin is to be added each day to the cooked food. It does not cook in the crock pot. Consult with your vet concerning vitamin additions.

Not in the recipe, but Aphie does get supplementation of high quality fish oil for Omega 3 when fish is not added to her diet.

Method

Place all ingredients in the crock pot in the order listed. Beans go on the bottom because they need to be down in the water to cook thoroughly. Set the crock pot on low and allow to cook for 8 hours. You really do not need to cut or dice anything, unless it helps with measurements.

If you are adding grains, either cook them separately or add them in during the last 3 hours of your cook time with another cup of water.

Use a potato masher to mash it all up. Easy! Done! Enjoy the aroma!

Again, consult with you vet, but generally dogs are fed twice per day. Amounts are determined by weight. A 10 – 50 lb dog gets 1/2 – 1 cup each feeding. Smaller dogs can have about 1/4 cup per feeding. And larger dogs up to 1 1/2 cups per meal.

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Tradition Chinese Veterinary Medicine

My little son was 2 when his father plopped him down on the floor with a litter of the cutest little Jack Russel Terrier puppies and told him he could take one home. This would be a “surprise” to me. hmmm As my ds tells it, all the little puppies were cute, but he immediately bonded with one little girl puppy, because he said that she needed him. So, of course, when his dad drove him home and he was all curled up sleeping with this little puppy, that was all she wrote. Heart melted. She would be ours. My son is 20 now. And she is still ours.

Queenbugslife2
image from disney’s “A Bug’s Life”

What to name her? At the time, Disney’s “A Bug’s Life” was a favorite in our home. There is a scene where the Queen Ant picks up her pet aphid and says, “You’re such a cute little Aphie” … this name stuck and henceforth, our little JRT was Aphie.

Anyway, for most of her life, she has been a pretty healthy energetic girl. She has kept us laughing for 17 1/2 years. Her healthcare has been managed by a lovely conventional vet. Her diet has consisted of part commercial brand dog foods and part the things we eat, minus foods that are toxic to dogs, of course. The people foods in our home are real, unprocessed foods. There is a lot of broccoli, carrots, squash, kale, berries, oats, bananas, you know… regular real food. We also make chicken broth. We use free range whole chickens, wasting no part of the animal, slow cook with vegetables and a bay leaf, then strain the scraps and cool the golden broth. Oh how Aphie loves these days! She gets the scraps of carrot and any bits of chicken that we deem undesirable. And she is a happy girl.

Now that Aphie is elderly, she has different needs. She is not moving around as much as she used to, she can’t see the bubbles and flies that she used to love hunting. She is more jumpy, a little fearful, and her mind may be slipping. Don’t tell her that I told you that. I am looking for appropriate ways to manage her health so that she continues to be a happy little girl.

Enter Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine

So recently, I stumbled across a local vet that uses an integrated approach to animal care. They take the best of western conventional medicine and practices and combine this with traditional Chinese medicine. They use food as medicine, as well as conventional medicines. They use herbs. They perform acupuncture, which the animals love because it releases endorphins and makes them feel great. I have been unable to find a local Doctor of TCM for myself, but now I have found one for my dog! Maybe I will make an appointment at the vet for myself! 🙂 Yes, we had to check this out.

five-elements_naturalremedyvetblogspotcom

To be candid, I did have some reservations about this concept. Still, my love for TCM for humans made the prospect of TCVM (Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine) absolutely irresistible. However, TCM is as much art as science. It is based on thousands of years of observational study of the human psyche and how it relates to physical health. It is nuanced and fluid. A skilled physician of TCM can accurately diagnose a patient in moments. TCM is premised on the concept of 5 elements, or phases. Each human will identify with aspects of several or all phases, but will have one or two elements which are dominant. A human becomes the element(s) they are, as a result of their response to a significant event early in life. You can read a very brief explanation of this hereChinese Medicine 101.

How can this possibly be applied to animals? Dogs do not think and process information as humans do. Dogs and cats do not even think like each other! So how can they identify with the elements of Chinese Medicine? Maybe this vet is not legit… hmmm

Field Trip to Sun Dog Moon Cat

(Sun Dog Cat Moon Website)

sundogcatmoon1

Upon arrival for our appointment, I already love the place. The office looks like a little house set in a beautiful grassy, flowered scenic little space. There is nothing clinical about the place. It is warm and peaceful. I could hang out in this yard all day and be perfectly content. Aphie loved it too, by the way.

Inside, we were greeted and put in a little examination room with a view of the pretty yard. Aphie sat on my lap. We got her stats and talked about her health history… nothing unusual here. When the vet comes in, she does not remove Aphie from my lap. Now, because Aphie is elderly, she is fearful and is no longer above snapping at people if she feels the slightest threat. Mostly she does this when she is in my lap. She is very protective. The vet sat down beside us and began massaging Aphie. I warned her this was not the best idea. But Aphie was cool with it! In fact, she got her whole examination, including a look at her little teeth while she sat in my lap.

With all this personal attention, still there was no mention of TCVM, which is what I came for, after all. So I inquired about this. The vet then brought out her charts with the elements, only she called them “constitutions”. Turns out that animals are born with their constitutions, unlike humans who quickly develop theirs based on early life experience. This is why breeds tend to have similar personalities and common health concerns. It is a very straight-forward system and valuable for diagnosis and treatment. Simple!

Here is the potential advantage of adding TCVM to pet care, based on my impression. Instead of standard treatments across the board which may or may not be needed or effective, care using this integrated approach is personalized. The “why’s” are explained. Now that I understand why Aphie has specific concerns, it is so much easier to treat her, without giving her unnecessary treatment with its own side effects.

Why this post is on a Food Blog

Just as food is used in TCM for people, a good diet is a vital part of animal health as well. We were given specific dietary recommendations. Turns out, they are pretty close to what Aphie already eats, with just a few tweaks. I have already made for her the basic crock pot food because I had almost everything in my fridge already. I did have to buy turkey (I chose humanely raised ground turkey). Also, we have no iodized salt in the house. We keep pink himalayan sea salt, generic sea salt, and kosher salt. No iodized table salt. This ingredient surprised me a bit.

This food cooked for hours, and the house smelled wonderful! I had to taste it. It is delicious. And Aphie scarfed up every last bit of her serving.

tcvm_originalrecipe1

This was really easy! And eliminates all my worry about commercial food ingredients. Some of this will go in the fridge. The rest will be frozen so that we have easy meals ready to go. I think I will go ahead and freeze it in portions. I love a good make-ahead!

In my next post, I will share some recipe ideas from friends who also make their own dog food. Each dog is different, so it is important to consult with your own vet to be sure that you are providing your fur baby with the nutrition he or she needs.

Happy healthy day to you and your fur babies! 

In case you are a dog lover and would like to know… Aphie is doing great for an old girl. Her heartbeat sounds really good. She does have some skin issues, which we are addressing. She slept so soundly after her adventure to the TCVM vet, and was especially sweet all day. I really need to learn those massage techniques. I think the vet probably used her knowledge of acupressure points.

Per her TCVM diagnoses, she is a Fire (high energy, no surprise) with some Metal issues (skin), and some Water issues (fear) simply because she is in the last phase of life. We will be making it as happy and comfortable for her as possible. We love our funny little girl.

This blog does not provide medical advice. Please see your physician, or in this case your vet, for your healthcare needs.

Fennel Congee Tea

Congee is a slow-cooked rice porridge used in Chinese culture and medicine as a healing food… and it is also known as “breakfast”. 🙂 Slow cooked rice is easily digested and serves as a vehicle for any other nutrients cooked with it. Rice is used in this way to increase bioavailablity for the other foods.

For example, if you make a black fungus congee, your body will absorb more of the nutrients found in black fungus cooked and eaten with rice as you would if the fungus were to be eaten alone. So, presumably, if you eat black fungus for its high iron content, your body should absorb more of the iron if you have prepared black fungus in a congee.

Fennel Congee can be made using the traditional method of just slow cooking rice, fennel and lots of water. You can learn more about the method here. Pictured below, this congee was made using 6 parts water, 1 part brown rice, and about 1 cup chopped fennel.

You can use chicken broth with, or instead of, water.

fennel_congee1

Important Disclaimer: This blog is informational only. This is not medical advice. Consult your healthcare provider per all of your health needs and concerns.

Fennel Congee is used for a variety of purposes. It is considered to be very beneficial for alleviating hernia, and reducing tumors.

For a little more information, here is a page taken from “The Book of Jook: Chinese Medicinal Porridges“.

fennel_congee_bookofjook3

Another way to benefit from Congee, is to make a tea from it. This is often much better tolerated than a bowl of thick porridge. And all you have to do is prepare the Congee and strain it. Reserve the broth, add more hot water to thin, if needed. (or hot chicken broth) And sip the hot nourishing tea at your leisure.

fennel_congee_tea1

Taken in a tea form, this really does not need to be sweetened up or seasoned, although it can be.

I tried a cup as-is and it was good. Then I stirred a few drops of raw honey into another cup, and it was great. 🙂

Enjoy!

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Metal – Precious and Refined

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In one of Barbara Kingsolver’s books, she proposes the idea of requiring all culinary students to make colorful cut-outs of asparagus in the spring, and apples in the fall, just as school children create paper snowflakes in January. The purpose would be to teach the value of eating produce in its season, when it is fresh, full of nutrition, and economical.

paperstrawberry2

It was about the time of my reading this book that I had occasion to speak to a class of culinary students. The topic was seasonal and local dining… minimizing our carbon footprints and all that. At that moment, strawberries were at their peak, bright red, juicy, and available in our area right off the vine. So, in preparation for my little lecture, I collected pieces of red construction paper, cut each one into a strawberry shape, and folded them so that they were just little red folded shapes, unrecognizable as strawberries – you know, for the “wow” factor when the true shape would be revealed.

Each culinary student was given a folded red paper and a hole puncher. Then I asked them to punch holes randomly. The idea was that when the hole punched red piece of paper was opened, and then placed on a white piece of paper – surprise! a strawberry with white seeds!

Little did I know that this would turn into a study in psychology.

paperstrawberry3

Per the time-honored studies in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), dispositions correlate with physical health concerns. Example: a hot-tempered person is likely to have heart-health issues. Western studies make these correlations too; many just find Eastern medicine more reliable, and its practice of using food as medicine most beneficial. That said…

A variety of designs were produced. Some actually were random, like the seeds of a strawberry. Noteworthy: The “earthy” students punched floral shapes which were quite happy and lovely. However, students with a strong metal personality did the most fascinating thing. Given no context of the strawberry, they punched perfect lines, each hole equally spaced. Or they punched holes in the shape of an “L”, which produced what looked to be a bad attempt at designing a strawberry swastika!

The Metal Personality

Had these students known they were making strawberries, I feel certain that they would have taken a completely different approach. Lacking that knowledge, they created order and uniformity. However, the metal personality is aesthetically gifted! They are designers and decorators, and have an amazing ability for making surfaces beautiful. They see value in people and things that others do not easily see. They seek high quality… like that which you find in precious metals.

When healthy, a metal person is able to “take in” (as in breath, aspiration) and “let go” appropriately, meaning that they aspire to reach their highest potential, and see the best in others. And they are able to let go of superficiality and material items that may weigh them down otherwise. This person is refined, disciplined, hard-working, respectful of authority, and thrives in an organized environment. They aspire to high standards, reaching above and beyond when everyone else has stopped reaching.

They hold high moral standards.

General Pathology of the Metal Element

Like all the elements, manifestations of deep-seated dispositions, are both physical and conceptual. If you are close to a “metal” person, you will begin to recognize their physical health declining first by, well, grumpiness and negativity. They may become very judgmental. When unhealthy, a metal person may hold on to too much (even hoarding), they may see value in things which they really should discard. And they may exhibit a “fatal flaw” syndrome -no matter how wonderful something is, they can point out the flaw. They grieve and feel a sense of longing and hopelessness.

This element, is more diverse than any of the others – earth, fire, water, and wood. Metal types are as far apart as are the metal organs – the lungs and large intestine. Examples of metal personalities range from Marilyn Monroe to Winnie-the-Pooh’s friend Eeyore. They have in common grieving and longing. Generally, they have a weepy voice, or a soft breathy voice; as though they are struggling for their lungs to produce enough air to speak, or they have lost something they believe they can never have again. (Unlike the melodic voice of an earth person, or gravelly voice of a water). An unhealthy metal person strives hopelessly for unattainable perfection, or just gives up.

Read more about the metal element personality here – Five Elements

Common Health Concerns of the Metal Element

They primary organs affected by the metal element are the lungs and large intestine. This person may suffer from asthma, allergies, skin disorders, or constipation, depression, IBD, and even hoarding. They may have bad breath because of poor digestion, or suffer from poor immunity.

Optimizing Health for the Metal Element

No smoking! Avoid working around fumes. Also, avoid overeating, in order to allow the body to process foods. Compact, simple, attractive small meals are often best. Some asthma medications actually contribute to dryness and heat conditions, but of course, do not discontinue any medication without consulting your physician! Modify your diet to counteract these conditions, as needed.

Lung Qi Dificiency

Indicated by Shortness of breath, pale, low energy, weak voice, gets sick easily, low immunity

Cut out dairy and sugar. Follow a Spleen Qi Deficiency Diet from the Earth Element.

Spleen Qi De­ciency:

Beneficial foods: Whole grains – brown rice, barley, buckwheat, millet, wheat berries, amaranth. Warming foods – ginger, cinnamon, cardamon, black pepper, fennel, clove, nutmeg, hot chiles. Lentils. Root vegetables – carrots, sweet potatoes. Squash, pumpkin, mushrooms, taro, longan, lotus seeds, hawthorne berries. Tangerine peel – use in a tea. Soups. Beef, pork, chicken, eggs.

Dry Cough (Lung Yin Deficiency)

Again, No smoking! No spicy foods, cut back on warming spices.

Add to the diet foods which alleviate dryness in the lungs: pears, almonds, honey, pear juice, mango, asparagus, black sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds

Steamed Asian Pears w/ brown sugar and Fritillaria Chuan Bei Mu

Damp Phlegm

Cough, chest congestion, sinus congestion, coughing up phlegm or could be stuck in chest (causing mild chest pain), thick coat on the tongue.

NO DAIRY, NO SUGAR. Make teas with tangerine peels. Add hawthorne berry

Follow Diet for Phlegm Accumulation in Earth

No fast foods, processed foods (which are bad for everyone). No dairy, no sugar, no coffee, no raw foods. Beneficial foods: Mustard greens, teas – black, tangerine peel, pumpkin seeds, shitake mushrooms, radishes, seaweed. Build digestive fire with warming foods and spices.

Note: Hormones and antibiotics in dairy products likely worsen this condition.

Constipation and Many Other Intestinal Issues

Increase fiber with foods such as Apples, Pumpkin, Collards (all greens), Sweet Potato, Okra, Cabbage, Asparagus, Apricots, Figs, Prunes, and Papaya

Dry colon

Maybe with dry cough, dry skin, may be because of advanced age or much medication

Walnuts, Pumpkin seeds, Almonds, Black Sesame Seeds, Fig, Prunes, Apricots

Heat Conditions

Cut out spicy foods, alcohol, recreational drug use, and possibly some prescription medications – consult physician first! Add to diet cooling foods, such as cucumber, celery, melon, clams, mussels, turkey, rabbit, mung beans, tofu, kiwi, lettuce, mango, pear, strawberries.

Chrysanthemum Tea, and Green Tea are also beneficial.

Slow digestion

Build digestive fire with warming foods and spices, plus Spleen Qi deficiency foods (above)

Additional Notes for the Metal Person

  • Have some fun! Avoid becoming a workaholic
  • Use slow rhythmic breathing to relax, regulate breathing, and center yourself
  • Take the time to make your meals attractive, composed
  • Drink lots of water! (keep things moving)
  • You may have suffered loss and this affects you greatly; remember that everyone suffers loss and do not allow this to define or control you.
  • You can accomplish anything! … but strive for balance, not perfection.

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Please note: This information is provided as a general introduction to the principles of TCM. Please consult your physician of choice concerning all matters pertaining to your personal health.

Super food! Simple food! Longevity food? Congee

Bama-chinagazedotcom
Bama centenarians (www.chinagaze.com, via theepochtimes.com)

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Bama Yao County, in the Guangxi region of Southeast China, is well-known for the longevity of its citizens. This remote mountainous region boasts an unusually high ratio of centenarians, including those who continue living decades over 100! And they have maintained this status over time. While other notable societies of centenarians have seen declines, Bama has not. Traditionally, when a citizen reaches age 60, a coffin is made for him or her. Frequently, coffins wear out long before their intended inhabitants do! Often coffins are used for food storage bins while they wait… and rot… and wait…

Tourists flock, historians and researchers study the people of Bama, and all seek to know the secret behind their unusual longevity. Many factors are credited; foremost of these are diet, clean air, and the disposition of the people.

The people of Bama are generous and hard-working, staying active throughout their lifespan. They live simply and are content with modest means. Their environment is relatively uncontaminated. They grow their own food, which consists of corn, potatoes, rice, vegetables, local hemp seeds, teas, and a daily staple – congee, a.k.a. gruel!

For beautiful images and an interesting article, check out chinaexpat.com.
Also epochtimes.com.

Congee is a simple food, essentially porridge made from grains, usually rice. Any ingredients desired may be added in, and it is used in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) as a healing food. Its medicinal value comes from the method by which it is prepared. It is cooked very slowly over hours. This slow cooked rice makes other ingredients added in more easily digestible, more bioavailable to the body. It is believed that the longer it cooks, the stronger it becomes.

 

Who might benefit from congee?

Generally, anyone in convalescence, individuals undergoing radiation treatment or chemotherapy, college kids who have pulled a lot of study “all-nighters”, and basically anyone who is overworked, highly stressed, or sleep deprived.

Add in beneficial ingredients, and enjoy with a cup of tea, if desired. Take a moment to sit and eat in peace, like the people of Bama. Then don’t be surprised if a sense of well-being ensues as your body absorbs much needed nourishment.  Congee can be prepared in advance and small portions reheated for breakfast, or at any time during the day. To follow are a few simple recipes.

As of late, my house has been flowing with congee. My son has been eating it daily! However, he likes what I call “boring congee”. I enjoy congee with nuts, seeds, dried fruits and spices added in. Or mushrooms and aromatics. Really, anything with flavor! My son likes brown rice and salt. That’s it. But that’s okay; I generally give him something green to eat or drink with it.

Here is my son’s congee… he will pick off the green onion garnish.

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Brown rice Congee

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 5 cups water
  • pinch of sea salt or 1/2 umeboshi plum or about 3/4 – 1 T umeboshi plum paste

Put all ingredients in a slow cooker on low and cook 6-8 hours. You may need to add more water. Check periodically to see if additional water is needed. Alternatively, simply add more water to begin with. You can always cook out any excess water. You can’t overcook the rice. That is the point.

You can also prepare congee in a pot on the stove-top. Simply simmer on a very low heat, for several hours, covered, adding water as needed.

Tip: When I make rice, I simple make extra and keep it refrigerated for a head-start on small congee portions for my son.

Substitution: You can make any congree with virtually any grain. Try oats, millet, buckwheat, whatever will nourish your body and please your taste buds.

Congee the way I like it… with stuff in it…

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Fruit and Nuts Congee

Recipe can be found HERE.

Congee my Mom likes… because it makes her feel good… and it tastes good.

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Black Fungus Congee

Recipe can be found HERE.

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Earth – a time of transformation

Late summer harvest belongs to the Earth element. This is a time of transition from summer to fall, and a time of transformation. Soon the bright colors of summer will fade and we will go into our storehouses to prepare for a slower pace. There is often a stillness and we begin to settle in… summer travels ending… a new school year beginning… anticipation of the next phase. We are still benefiting from the earth’s bounty of crops, including hearty sweet grains. Where brightly colored produce has been the food of summer, grains are the most nourishing foods of the earth element.

Male or female, the healthy earth person is a giver, a nurturer, a comforter. They readily volunteer, and always have something to share. They give and take with appropriate reciprocity. They have a innate ability to transform resources into something useful. They are balanced and centered. This is the person we want to have near when we are in need of comfort.  They often have a song in their voice. A healthy earth person creates community. They bring people together. And they care for their own needs just as they care for others. Everyone around them feels loved and cared for.

The virtue of the earth person is nurturing, integrity, reciprocity, integration, and transformation.  The primary emotion is sympathy and worry. The primary concern is comfort. The color associated with earth is yellow. They likely have a sweet tooth.

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For a brief introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine, please click here.
For a brief description of each element (phase) wood, fire, earth, metal, water, please click here.

General Pathology of the Earth Element

When an Earth person is unhealthy, or out of balance, they tend to ruminate and worry excessively. The may become needy, and may be lazy and apathetic. They may become takers, expecting too much of others, and have difficulty feeling content and gracious. This can relate to relationships as well as food. They simply cannot get enough to feel satisfied. They may seek sympathy and complain. Martyrdom and selfishness may become an issue. They can become controlling.

Common Health Concerns of the Earth Element

Organs associated with this element are the spleen and stomach. They may experience poor musculature, diabetes, obesity, OCD, chronic fatigue, candida albicans, and issues around food, including sensitivities, anorexia or bulimia, orthorexia, poor digestion.

They may eat too much, particularly sweets, or experience the opposite extreme, eating too little, food becomes a burden to them. They can become overweight even when they are not over-eating.

Optimizing Health (Late Summer, Earth)
Methods for reaching the highest level possible

  • Focus on foods which are nutritional.
  • Avoid foods that are processed and contain chemicals. Avoid fast food.
  • Avoid excess sugar, dairy, soy, and carbs.
  • Eat cooked foods. You may be concerned that some nutrients are destroyed in the cooking process. For some foods, this is true. However, raw foods are difficult for the spleen to process. The earth person will absorb more nutrients if foods are first cooked.
  • Avoid cold foods.
  • Avoid inflammatory foods.
  • Eat proteins first at mealtime to help you feel full.
  • Eat until you are almost full.
  • Focus on your meal. No eating in the car, or in front of the T.V., computer or with other electronics.
  • Make mealtime peaceful. This is not a time for arguing and stress.
  • To the extent possible, eat at the same times each day, at regular intervals. Do not eat close to bedtime.

To assist with cravings for sweets, increase whole grains and beans in the diet. Chew very slowly.

Deliberately make time to care for yourself. Schedule time for those things which bring you peace and comfort. This could be something as simple as a movie or a walk in the park. Whatever it is, purposefully take time for it on a regular basis.

Healing Foods – Per TCM (Late Summer, Earth)

For Spleen Qi Deficiency

Indications may be poor digestion and appetite, indigestion, dull sense of taste, lethargy, dizziness, tired eyes, bloating, loose stools, weak limbs, headache after exersion

Beneficial foods: Whole grains – brown rice, barley, buckwheat, millet, wheat berries, amaranth. Warming foods – ginger, cinnamon, cardamon, black pepper, fennel, clove, nutmeg, hot chiles. Lentils. Root vegetables – carrots, sweet potatoes. Squash, pumpkin, mushrooms, taro, longan, lotus seeds, hawthorne berries. Tangerine peel – use in a tea. Soups. Beef, pork, chicken, eggs.

For Damp Accumulation

Indications may be similar to that of Spleen Qi Deficiency. May also include symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic pain, unexplained muscle soreness. Excess weight.

Beneficial foods: Same foods as for Spleen Qi deficiency. Add Oolong tea.
Follow notes under “optimizing health” more strictly. Do not eat raw foods, or cold foods, do not eat straight from the fridge. Avoid coffee, dairy, sugars, excess carbs.

For Phlegm Accumulation

Stagnate dampness may manifest in lumps, masses, or growths. May be a thick white coating on the tongue. May become foggy headed, lack clarity. May be associated with such disorders as: ADD/ADHD, Aspergers, eating disorders, chronic fatigue, candida, some mental disorders. May be caused by a poor diet, including fast foods, processed foods. When substantial, may also be associated with fibroids, endometriosis, tumors, abdominal lumps, cysts.

Note: Hormones and antibiotics in dairy products likely worsen this condition.

Beneficial foods: Mustard greens, teas – black, tangerine peel, pumpkin seeds, shitake mushrooms, radishes, seaweed

No dairy, no sugar, no coffee, no raw foods.

Build digestive fire with warming foods such as those listed above.

Candida

Indications may be feeling tired, worn down, digestive issues, skin issues, weakened immune system, feeling sick all of the time, sinus issues and allergies, strong craving for sugar and carbohydrates. There will be a very thick white coating on the tongue.

Beneficial practice: Follow recommendations for Phlegm Accumulation very strictly. Add probiotics.

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Please note: This information is provided as a general introduction to the principles of TCM. Please consult you physician of choice concerning all matters pertaining to your personal health.

For more information:

 

Fire – The Element of Summer

The warmth of a fire attracts us, draws us in, and brings people together. It creates moments of joy, especially at an outdoor gathering of friends. One cannot help but move toward it to be soothed by the glow that emanates from it’s embers. It can capture our attention in a way that leaves us mesmerized for a moment. It is intense, but if controlled, it is a thing of real beauty.

The fire  person can be described in much the same way. Often this person may be called charming, magnetic, or charismatic. When healthy, they are friendly, warm, and connect easily with others. They tend to be passionate and dive into life with both feet. They are able to express clearly and appropriately what is in their heart. They are fun to be around, and exiting. Their smiles and laughter are infectious; they light up the room. They love fully and dream big. They enjoy telling jokes. They are empathetic and inspirational, and imaginative.

The virtue of the fire person is warmth, propriety, appropriate intimacy and connection with others, clear articulation, ability to act on what is right. They are in rhythm with life. The primary emotion is joy. Primary concerns are love, trust, and intimacy.

Interestingly, their body odor may be like that of a campfire. This may sound odd, but rub the bend in their arm and sniff. (Like a “Scratch and sniff” – haha)  They may have the color red in their skin tone or hair. 

For a brief introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine, please click here.
For a brief description of each element (phase) wood, fire, earth, metal, water, please click here.

General Pathology of the Fire Element

When unhealthy, the converse is likely. They tend to be over-controlling, and inappropriate with boundaries around sexuality. They trust who they should not trust, and have difficulty trusting who they should. They move from one passion to another, often forgetting the original plan. They may chase their passion to their own destruction, and not understand what happened. They have difficulty expressing themselves and become very hard for others to understand. They may not realize that they are expressing themselves in a confusing way and become angry with others for not understanding them. Rather than being the life of the party, the may even become the wall flower in the corner. They can be nervous, overly talkative, unable to relax, agitated, unpredictable, impulsive, sarcastic. They are essentially “out of rhythm” with life.

Common Health Concerns of the Fire Element

Fittingly, the primary organs associated with fire are the heart and the small intestine. A fire person is wise to give special attention to heart health. If over-stimulated they may experience congestive heart conditions, palpitations, rashes, migraines, insomnia, ADD/ADHD, arrhythmia, edema, stuttering, fidgeting, cold sores/mouth ulcers, or associated mental and emotional disorders, including mania, by-polar disorder, anxiety, forgetfulness, foggy-headedness, excess desire, even inappropriate laughter. They will also experience relationship issues.

Noteworthy: Firefighters on duty, face a much higher risk or heart attack. It is more likely they will die from heart disease than fire. If you love a fire-fighter, please urge them to take care of their heart health!

Optimizing Health (Summer, Fire)
Methods for reaching the highest level possible

  • The sensory organ of the fire element is the tongue. Watch for redness on the tip of the tongue. This may suggest excessive heat in the body. Also, watch for stuttering and lisps. This may indicate vascular issues or mental confusion.
  • Related to the small intestine, watch for excessive or spontaneous sweating, sweaty palms. this may suggest issues with gluten.
  • Avoid energy drinks, coffee, cigarettes, and drug use. This may include prescription drugs– of course, do not discontinue use of any prescribed medication without consulting with your physician!
  • A fire person may be able to release heat through exercise, such as dancing and swimming. Also, helpful are calming activities such as reading, message, or lying on the beach.
  • A good diet is crucial! Cooling foods will reduce heat issues. Bitter foods are helpful for heart conditions, and inflammation.

Healing Foods – Per TCM (Summer, Fire)

In general, enjoy brightly colored fruits and vegetables of summer’s bounty. Cook foods quickly with high heat. Or eat foods which are raw, sprouted, steamed, or simmered. Eat light meals. Reduce salt. Increase water. Counter-intuitively, it is advisable to avoid very cold foods on hot days, like ice cream, as these are not easily digested when the body is hot.

Cooling Foods

These foods are helpful if a person is manifesting excessive heat in the body. Indications may include mania, chest pain, rapid pulse, mouth ulcers, inflammation, swellings, redness, mental restlessness, dark urine, tongue with a very red tip, excessive talking or cussing.

Mung beans, red beans, apples, watermelon, mulberries, persimmon, lemon, peach, strawberry, kiwi, beets, bitter melon, carrots, lotus root, cucumber, celery, duck, oysters, sushi, mint tea, flower and leaf teas, bamboo leaf tea

A cucumber salad, with many of these ingredients, would be great! Watch for future recipe postings.

Bitter Foods 

These foods are helpful in cleaning arteries of damp deposits from cholesterol and fats. They help the body to purge toxins which cause or aggravate skin eruptions, candida, lung congestion, congestion in digestive track and vessels, abscesses, tumors, and cysts.

Bitter greens, like dandelion, bitter melon, arugula, radicchio, romaine, radish leaf, burdock root, chamomile, alfalfa sprouts, citrus peels, grapefruit, papaya, scallions, turnips, taro root, amaranth, quinoa, asparagus, broccoli, celery, vinegar.

For the fire person, bitter foods may be beneficial for regular incorporation in the diet.

Personally, I like dark chocolate (bitter) with strawberries (cooling). You, and your healthcare provider, must determine what is beneficial for you.

Heart Blood Deficiency – If there are palpitations, anxiety, difficulty in falling asleep and/or staying asleep, general restlessness, poor memory, then foods high in iron, like spinach and other dark leafy greens, may be beneficial. Also, rare beef, lamb, pork, chicken, chicken eggs, homemade soup stocks, grapes, apricots, dates, berries, kidney beans, gogi berries, longan.

Small Intestine Congestion: Indications may include ADD/ADHD, mental confusion, dyslexia, sexual perversion, general lack of clarity; one may feel congested. Completely eliminate gluten, dairy and sugar. Vegetables, particularly fibrous and low sugar content, should make up at least half the diet. Beneficial choices include apple, pear, berries, legumes, okra, avocado, kale, and other greens. If there is no indication of excessive heat, such as redness or a yellow coating  on the tongue, etc., then building digestive fire in the small intestine will be helpful. In this case, you may include ginger, cinnamon, and chilies.

For more information:

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During summer months, this blog will feature bright colorful nourishing summer foods, using appropriate preparation methods to make these foods both inviting and bioavailable. You can, of course, adjust them according to your personal taste and needs.

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Please note: This information is provided as a general introduction to the principles of TCM. Please consult you physician of choice concerning all matters pertaining to your personal health.

The Elements (Phases) of TCM

It almost seems wrong to take millenniums of study of sages and physicians and sum any portion of it up into a short blog. But we live in a fast-paced society with a modern structure. Still, we want the best for our families! We need to operate at our highest, best, and healthiest level. So, here we go!

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Elemental Organization in a Nutshell

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses a system of five elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. These five elements encompass the human experience… our health, our virtue, our pathology, all that makes us who we are.

As stated in previous posts, this summation will be an oversimplification, as we each possess characteristics of more than one element.  We are complex; this is where the art of TCM comes in. However, we each generally identify most predominantly with one or two elements. It is about finding patterns… those which affect our health in different ways.

Example: a person with a very hot temper may have heart issues. Our physical and emotional being affect each other in many ways. This person could consider eating foods which strengthen and nourish the heart, while implementing methods for calming his emotion.

It is beneficial to determine the element with which we most identify because we can use this knowledge to improve our health! Knowledge is power! There is no one-size-fits-all diet, and good healthy foods which nourish one person will not necessarily well nourish the next. A healthy food – even a superfood – may not be great for you. It is not about finding the best generic healthy foods. It is about finding the healthy foods which are best for you… For your child… Your spouse… Your friend. It is personal and individual. TCM is one option for a great place to start. After that it is not static. If a “water” person develops a “wood” health issue, he or she should probably look to the foods and methods which nourish the “wood” element. Also, in general, it is healthful to somewhat adjust our eating patterns per the season.  When tarragon is fresh and in season, it goes in my dishes! – More in future posts!

If you need to catch up, please read Chinese Medicine 101. Don’t worry. It’s brief.

That said… to follow are very brief descriptions of each element. See if you can find yourself!

Explanation of notes:
Virtue: qualities associated with the element that one might possess when healthy
Pathology: qualities that one might possess when NOT healthy, unbalanced
Primary Concern: just what it sounds like, what is most important to him/her
Primary Emotion: this tends to be the go-to emotion associated with this element
Sound: sound most associated with this element
Odor: this is what it sounds like… what this person may smell like
Organs: those which are likely to relate to physical health issues
Tissue: that which is likely to relate to physical health issues
Taste: generally the flavor this person prefers, or nourishes him/her
Color: may be present in skin tones, even hair; can relate to the most beneficial foods for this element
Nourishing Foods: just as it sounds, foods which are most nourishing for this element

WOOD

Virtue: This person, when healthy, is a natural leader with great vision and perspective. He or she can make a plan and carry it out despite obstacles. Almost instinctively, we move out of this person’s way when they walk by and they have no qualms about forging through, as they have a vision, a mission, for the good of all. They are firmly rooted, yet adaptable. They are creative, discerning and love a challenge. These are the Army Generals, Corporate Leaders, Architects and Builders.
Pathology: (when unhealthy) a wood person may be belligerent, resentful, and aggressive.
Primary Concern: Justice, Vision, Creativity
Primary Emotion:
 Anger
Sound: Shout
Odor: Rancid (sharp), Vinegar
Organs: Liver, Gallbladder
Sensory Organ: Eyes
Tissue: Tissue
Taste: Sour
Color: Green
Nourishing Foods: Sprouts, Tender Greens

FIRE

Virtue: This is the passionate, often charismatic, person. We are drawn to this person like we are drawn to a warm fire on a cold night. He or she connects well with others, communicates clearly and loves fully. Their laughter impels others to laugh. They clearly express what is in their heart. They are the life of the party, tell jokes, and are sometimes absurd. These may be rock stars, performers, hosts, extroverts, great salespeople, and yes, maybe even fire-fighters. Example: Goldie Hawn
Pathology: (when unhealthy) bitter, untrustworthy, sarcastic, overly controlling
Primary Conerns: Relationships, Love, Trust, Intimacy
Primary Emotion: Joy
Sound: Laughter
Odor: Scorched, hot, like opening an oven or matches
Organs: Heart, Small Intestine
Sensory Organ: Tongue
Tissue: Blood Vessels
Taste: Bitter
Color: Red
Nourishing Foods: Asparagus, Lotus Root

For more information on the Fire element, please click here.

 

EARTH

Virtue: The earth person is nurturing, generous, and caring toward others. He or she is able to give and take appropriately. They posses natural abilities for reciprocity, transformation, and integration. They have integrity. They are givers and volunteers. They are comforting and sympathetic. There is often a song in their voice. This person will give you the comfy chair, your favorite dish, and maybe even rub your feet! If you do this for the healthy earth person, they will love it! Examples: Nurses, Farmers, Bakers and Chefs, the quintessential “Mom”
Pathology: (when unhealthy) Worry, Ruminating, Complaining, Ingratiating
Primary Concern: Comfort
Primary Emotion: Sympathy
Sound: Singing
Odor: Fragrant (sticky), like pastry, flowers
Organs: Spleen (pancreas), Stomach
Sensory Organ: Mouth
Tissue: Muscles
Taste: Sweet
Color: Yellow
Nourishing Foods: Grains

For more information on the Earth element, please click here.

METAL

Virtue: The metal person has the ability to see value that others cannot see. They are detail-oriented. They possess intrinsic skills with aesthetics. They are inspirational, appreciative, see value in themselves and others. Their transparency allows for an honest representation and righteousness. They reach for the highest potential. They are upright, disciplined, hard-working, and refined. There standards are high. They generally appreciate art and music. This group is diverse; examples may include Marilyn Monroe, or Eeyore. Future postings will clarify.
Pathology: (when unhealthy) Perfectionism, Pride, Judgmental, Cynicism, Cold (emotionally), Snide, Disdain, Fatal Flaw Syndrome
Primary Concern: Fairness, Rightness, Loss
Primary Emotion: Grief
Sound: Weeping
Odor: Rotten (dry), or like coins, doorknobs
Organs: Lungs, Large Intestines
Sensory Organ: Nose
Tissue: Skin
Taste: Pungent
Color: White
Nourishing Foods: Pears, Almonds

For more information on the Metal element, please click here

WATER

Virtue: The water personality is characterized by wisdom, resourcefulness, stillness at the depths, cleverness, contemplation, and conservation. They are methodical, sensible, and possess a strong depth of awareness. They are articulate, intuitive, and adaptable, able to flow with each situation. They have a wealth of information to share. He or she uses will and resources for the utilization of the highest good. Examples: Einstein, Henry Kissinger, Keith Richards
Pathology: (when unhealthy) Paranoid, Secretive, Depletes resources, Fearful (or inappropriately fearless), Trembling
Primary Concern: Having enough resouces
Primary Emotion: Fear
Sound: Groaning
Odor: Putrid (wet), like a brick courtyard, boat
Organs: Kidney, Urinary bladder
Sensory Organ: Ears
Tissue: Bone
Taste: Salty
Color: Black (may be black or blue under the eyes)
Nourishing Foods: Bone broth, nuts

For more information on the Water element, please click here

Watch for more detail, dietary suggestions, and recipes in future postings! 

 

Black Fungus Congee

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Could bf be your new bff?
As promised, this post includes a savory congee recipe, using beautiful black fungus, a.k.a. wood ear, tree ear, cloud ear, or Judas ear.

While the name may not make you salivate, knowing uses for this marvelous ingredient may give you a beneficial addition to many dishes.

Black fungus is used in Chinese medicine for its healing properties. It has very little detectable flavor. This makes it great for adding to dishes, as it will not overwhelm other flavors. In case you wish to soften the texture, simply cook it longer. This characteristic makes it perfect for congee!

How Black Fungus is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), including, but not limited to…

  • … help in dissolving fibroid and other uterine tumors
  • … treat dry conditions (as it moistens the blood)
  • … improve circulation (because of a chemical it contains which is thought to inhibit blood clotting)
  • … fight anemia because of its high iron content

BTW, Western medicine agrees. Black Fungus contains iron (and other minerals), protein, fat, vitamins, and polysaccharide (a cancer fighter)

What you need to know before using Black Fungus

You can purchase dried black fungus at an Asian Market or online

To prepare
Dried black fungus must be reconstituted and cleaned, like any other dried mushroom. Simple method – place black fungus in a bowl, cover with water. Allow to sit for about 20 minutes. Most of the dirt will settle to the bottom of the bowl. If needed, give the fungus a quick rinse to remove any remaining bits of dirt. Then cut away stems and discard. You can feel them between your fingers, they are a bit tough. I use kitchen scissors to easily snip them off.

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Above: Dried and reconstituted black fungus. You only need a small amount dried. Also, If you feel you are able to rinse off the dirt well enough, you may add it to the congee without reconstituting first. 

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Black Fungus Congee

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rice (I used sweet rice)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup reconstituted black fungus, stems removed, julienned or diced
  • 6 cups water or chicken broth
  • optional Ingredients, if you are preparing congee for treatment of dry conditions: seaweed (strong flavor, go easy), soybeans (1/4 c), black sesame seeds (1 T.)
  • optional seasoning: ginger (to taste), green onion (2 or 3 stems, diced), umeboshi plum paste or salt to taste

Method
Add all ingredients to a slow cooker or pot on the stove top. Simmer for 4 to 6 hours. In Chinese medicine, it is believed that the longer congee simmers, the more powerful it becomes. Stir occasionally. Add water as needed. You are looking for a porridge consistency and you do not want it to dry and stick to the bottom of the pot.

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Enjoy! And good health!

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